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January 24, 2004: Ceilidh is just another term for slam dancing in kilts

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In continuation of the serious lack of energy from the rest of the week, this morning I went back to bed after feeding the starving hordes/cats and didn’t drag myself out of bed again until after 10. After that there was really no point in trying to get much of anything productive done. So instead we went out for breakfast (which was actually lunch by that point) and then we came home and sorted out all the cardboard for recycling. The intent had been to sort out all of the recycling, but we were running low on time and the cardboard had piled up so high after Christmas packages and such that it was threatening to take over the garage. So we stuffed Richard’s trunk full of flattened boxes and dropped them off at the recycling center in town and then went back home and poked sleepily at our computers until it was time to leave.

We left a bit early so we would have time to swing by Trader Joe’s in Concord on the way down, in order to stock up on some of our favorites. The day they build a Trader Joe’s closer to us is the day I do a small but cheerful dance of celebration. And then we continued on our journey to Richard’s parents’ house, where we sat around and chatted and then piled back into the car and drove to Mountain View for the South Bay Scottish Society’s Burns Supper.

I have heard about these things, but never actually attended one. After all, haggis is always involved and while I’ve eaten haggis before it’s not one of those foods I feel the need to consume on a more regular basis. But Richard’s father has really gotten into his Scottish roots (so naturally he attended in formal kilt), and it sounded like it would be fun, so what the heck.

It *was* fun. It was also very, very long, but that is because there was so much going on. The evening started, of course, with the traditional reading of Robert Burns’ Address to a Haggis. Considering that most of the room was also in formal kilts and other such attire, it was no wonder that they were all nodding along and chuckling in all the right places. Richard and I, however, being completely clueless when it comes to these sorts of things, were only picking out one word in every twenty or so and it was only after the recitation was done that I found out the reason I’d had such a hard time understanding it was because it was read in the original old English.

After the ode to the haggis was read (complete with processional and bagpipe) we ate dinner, which comprised of various mashed root vegetables, birdie (which is ground beef and onions and stuff inside a pastry shell), and of course haggis. Yes, by the way, I *did* eat haggis. It tastes mainly like an oddly spiced sausage, and it helps if you just don’t think about either what’s in it, or what it looks like when it’s still in its rather embryonic looking outer coating. And then once we had all stuffed ourselves on meat and starch and were eying the beautifully decorated shortbread cookies blearily, it was time for dancing.

Scottish country dancing – or at least the stuff we did this evening – looks deceptively simple. They would come out and demonstrate the steps and we would sit there, watching, thinking “hey, that doesn’t look too hard at all”, and then we would all crowd out onto the dance floor and the music would start and suddenly there was an entire room of people frantically looking at their feet or each other, hoping to find *someone* who knew what they were doing and which direction we were all supposed to be going at any one time. It was grand fun, all whirling around and trying to remember if we were supposed to do two steps or three steps left or where we supposed to be going backwards right about then, and Richard and I usually only got the hang of the whole thing about the time the music was ending, and since we weren’t the only ones who were clueless there was much slamming into people and accidentally stepping on toes and laughing and “excuse me” and “Oh, very sorry” and since we were all doing it with equal abandon to each other no one was really offended and it was so very much fun! It was also an aerobic workout because there is all the whirling and the stepping and the waltzing and by the end of the evening there were tables all around the room of people looking a bit dazed and flushed and out of breath, and then out they would come again with another round and what could we do but gulp some water and drag ourselves out of our chairs and give it one more try?

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